Biomonitoring as an underused exposure assessment tool in occupational safety and health context: challenges and way forward

Susana Viegas, Maryam Zare Jeddi, Nancy B. Hopf, Jos Bessems, Nicole Palmen, Karen S. Galea, Kate Jones, Peter Kujath, Radu Corneliu Duca, Hans Verhagen, Tiina Santonen, Robert Pasanen-Kase

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Recent advances in analytical chemistry have allowed a greater possibility of using quantitative approaches for measuring human exposure to chemicals. One of these approaches is biomonitoring (BM), which provides unequivocal evidence that both exposure and uptake of a chemical have taken place. BM has been a longstanding practice in occupational health for several reasons. BM integrates exposure from all routes. It can help identify unintentional and unexpected exposures and assess the effectiveness of existing risk-management measures. BM also provides relevant information to support policy development by delivering better evidence of workers’ exposure to chemical substances, even within the framework of the present regulations. Thus, BM can allow for both the evaluation of the impact of regulation and identification of further needs for new or improved regulation. However, despite all these well-recognized advantages, BM is currently an underused exposure assessment tool. This paper provides an overview of the key aspects to be considered when using BM in the context of occupational health interventions. Additionally, this paper describes the potential of BM as an exposure assessment tool, distinguishing the role of BM in exposure assessment and health surveillance and clarifies ethical and communication aspects to guarantee that general data protection regulations are followed. In addition, actions and research needs are identified (particularly with reference to the European situation), which aim to encourage the increased use of BM as an exposure assessment tool.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5884
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2020


  • Biological guidance value
  • Biological limit value
  • Biological monitoring
  • Exposure assessment
  • Occupational health
  • Risk assessment


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